I sort of lost track of Rush about 15-20 years ago. I’m not sure why as I was a big fan in the '70s and '80s and their vinyl releases remain in my collection. Snakes & Arrows Live provided a good way to catch up and renew old acquaintances.
Showcasing Rush at their best, this almost four-hour, three-disc set was mostly recorded over two nights at the Ahoy Rotterdam Arena in The Netherlands on their 2007 world tour. With crystal clear sound quality a top-notch visual presentation, the team that put this production together should be applauded for using modern technology to its best advantage. Even the camera angles enhance the viewing experience. As well, any artist putting together a live CD would do well to use this release as the standard.
I have never seen Rush live nor have I previously owned or watched any of their concert films. As such, I looked forward to viewing this release and, I must say, I was not disappointed. Rush is one of the few power trios that can not only reproduce their recorded sound in concert but can actually enhance it as well. It almost seems as if Alex Lifeson is playing the lead and rhythm guitar parts simultaneously.
Discs one and two are complete concerts — at least it seems that way — as they contain no duplicate selections, such as it should be considering the vastness of the band's catalog. The third disc, entitled “Oh Atlanta! The Authorized Bootlegs,” essentially consists of random live tracks recorded in 2008, of which the classic “2112/The Temples Of Syrinx” is a standout.
The 27 songs that comprise the two main concerts cover most of Rush’s career. The newer songs seemed to work better for me, but maybe that was because I had not really heard them before. Songs like “The Main Monkey Business” and “The Larger Bowl" will now make their way to my stereo system on a regular basis.
Still, it is all about the musicianship when it comes to Rush in concert. While many of the songs perhaps share the same structures, the technical expertise of the musicians sets them apart and gives them uniqueness.
Alex Lifeson may not appear as a typical guitar god, but his ability to produce a barrage of sound from his Gibson guitar is superb. He exhibits terrific hand speed that allows him to produce a full sound. Geddy Lee’s bass runs serve as a good counterpoint to Lifeson and his voice — which is very unique and instantly recognizable — has lost none of its tone or power over the years. Drummer Neil Peart, who is not a finesse player but rather one who pounds the drums into submission, provides the band's foundation behind an array of percussion. In short, he supplies the rock upon which the sound is built.
If you are a fan of Rush then Snakes & Arrows Live is essential; if you are a fan of hard rock in general, then it will still be a worthwile purchase. I give it a big two thumbs up and I welcome Rush back to my listening rotation after an extended absence.